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Florida condo collapse settlement hits more than $1 billion

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Lawyers for the families who lost relatives in the collapse of a last year Florida residential tower that killed 98 people reached a $1.02 billion settlement on Friday that offers a quick resolution to lawsuits that could have dragged on for years.

The agreement to end the litigation over the Champlain Towers South tragedy has yet to be approved by District Judge Michael Hanzman, but that should only be a formality.

Earlier in court, attorneys announced a tentative agreement that nearly $1 billion would be shared by the families whose relatives died or were injured in the collapse of the 12-story Surfside tower, and parties on both sides of the lawsuit filed one on Friday Application for commitment to a $1.02 billion settlement fund. Additionally, nearly $100 million will be shared by those who lost their property in the collapse.

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Victims’ families have to make claims as the money is not shared equally. The goal is to start distributing money by September.

The money comes from multiple sources, including insurance companies, engineering firms, and a luxury condo recently built next door. Neither party admits any wrongdoing. A billionaire developer from Dubai i s intends to purchase the 4-acre beachfront lot for $120 million, contributing to the settlement.

The judge will set attorneys’ fees, but it is expected to be a fraction of what attorneys would normally earn. In cases like this, it usually takes three years or more to reach a settlement, let alone a court case.

In their motion for “preliminary approval of the class action settlement,” plaintiffs’ and defendants’ attorneys described the Surfside collapse as a “‘black swan’ event that devastated this community” and said they were “proud of the challenge.” having complied with this court to provide aid to the class of victims ahead of the one-year anniversary of the collapse.”

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Most of the Champlain Towers South suddenly collapsed around 1:20 a.m. on June 24 when most residents were asleep. Only three people survived the initial collapse.

No other survivors were found, despite round-the-clock rescue workers digging through a 12-metre-high pile of rubble for two weeks. Another three dozen people were able to escape from the remaining part of the building. All 135 units were eventually demolished, leaving a gaping hole on Surfside Beach.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is investigating the cause of the collapse, a process expected to take years. Champlain South had a long history of maintenance issues and questions were raised about the quality of its original construction and inspections in the early 1980s.

The collapse prompted a new review of the safety of high-rise buildings across the state, particularly in vulnerable coastal areas. At the time, Miami-Dade and neighboring Broward counties were the only ones of Florida’s 67 counties that required buildings to recertify their safety after 40 years.

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New legislation was passed by the Legislature in a special session this week and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis will require these certifications nationwide, much earlier in the life of the building.

Recertification is required after 30 years, or after 25 years if the building is less than 5 kilometers from the coast, and every 10 years thereafter. The Champlain Towers South was 40 years old and its homeowners association was struggling with compliance at the time of the collapse.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/05/27/florida-condo-collapse-settlement-reached-tops-1-billion/ Florida condo collapse settlement hits more than $1 billion

Sarah Y. Kim

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